The Royal Mail has said it will continue to deliver the most comprehensive service it can during the COVID-19 lockdown but that some of the changes will impact on staff and customers.
A spokesman said: “We are seeking to deliver as comprehensive a service as possible at all times
“We are committed to ensuring we deliver for the country. Our colleagues are keeping the mail moving – delivering letters and parcels across the UK, including to those who find it difficult to leave their homes.
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“Throughout this crisis, we will continue to deliver the most comprehensive service we can to all our customers. However, as cases of coronavirus increase across the UK we, along with other organisations, are experiencing growing levels of employee absence due to illness and self-isolation.
“Absence rates are currently double what we normally expect at this time of year.
“To manage these severe absence levels – which are growing - we are implementing a range of mitigations.
“These include changing the time guarantee on Special Delivery and deploying non-operational managers in delivery.
“We are working closely with approximately 11,000 Post Offices that remain open to provide another avenue – where appropriate – for you to access essential mail services.
“Despite our best endeavours, it is likely that some areas of the country will experience a reduction in service levels due to coronavirus-related absences at their local mail centre or delivery office.
“We will continue to actively monitor this rapidly evolving crisis. We will keep talking to you. And, we will continue to focus on the delivery of our two priorities - safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our people and the communities we serve and delivering as comprehensive a service as possible at all times.
Here’s what’s happening
Customer Service Points – Temporary Change in Opening Hours
To protect the health and safety of staff and the general public, from Monday 6 April, the Royal Mail is changing the opening times of its Customer Services Points in its local delivery offices. Largest locations will be open between 07:00-11:00am. All other Customer Service Points will be open between 07:00-09:00am. All will be closed on Wednesday and Sunday.
To support the Government’s advice to stay at home and avoid non-essential journeys, customers are urged to only visit Customer Service Points where absolutely necessary. Items can also be redelivered for free.
Longer retention periods in Customer Service Points
To give customers longer to collect or have their item redelivered, the Royal Mail is temporarily extending the retention period to 30 calendar days from Monday 6 April before items are returned to sender.
This applies to the following:
Items with a ‘Something for You’ card left
Items that have a ‘Surcharge to Pay’
Items that have a ‘Customs Charge to Pay’
Local Collect items where the parcel is addressed to the Customer Service Point
Changes to Special Delivery Guaranteed
Due to increased absence levels, the Royal Mail has timed guarantees for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am and 1pm services and will make the following changes:
For items posted from Tuesday 31 March 2020 onwards, guaranteed delivery for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9.00am the next working day will change to by 12.00pm the next working day*.
Guaranteed delivery for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1.00pm will change to by 9.00pm the next working day*.
*existing postcode exceptions apply
Signing for and receiving items
In order to protect both staff and customers as much as possible, the Royal Mail is minimising contact during delivery. Staff will not be handing over hand-held devices to customers to capture signatures but instead log the name of the person accepting the item. Additionally, for all customers where staff need to deliver any item that won’t fit through your letterbox, staff will place your item at your door. Having knocked on your door, staff will then step aside to a safe distance while you retrieve your item. This will ensure your item is delivered securely rather than being left outside.
Delivering to care homes
The Government has introduced measures to protect our most vulnerable groups, including those in residential care. These include limiting all but essential access to care homes for external contractors.
A spokesman said: “We recognise that post is important to the elderly, particularly those away from their friends and families in care homes. Therefore, to support the effort to keep the mail moving but prevent the spread of coronavirus, we are making arrangements to deliver to a central point (e.g. reception) rather than individual addresses within care homes from 19th March. These changes will help to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and the vulnerable in society.”
Changes to Door to door mailings
The Royal Mail will deliver unaddressed door to door advertising mailings to customers who are receiving addressed letters or parcels at the same time, wherever practically possible.
Door to door mailings provide a very valuable service to small businesses and companies of all kinds as they seek to provide their goods and services. Many small businesses need that support now more than ever. They want to send it, many consumers want to receive it. Door to door mailings also include important communications from local government.